Personality Cafe banner

1 - 20 of 51 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
166 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Long story short: I'd been trapped in the cycle of abuse for the two years I was with my ENFP husband. The abuse was emotional, verbal/mental, physical, and sexual...but "he never hit me!" He harmed the cat, heard voices, had a predisposition to violence and psychosis from an early age, and eventually, he agreed to meet with a psychiatrist after a voice/thought popped into his head that said the abuse wouldn't end until my death.

Back in high school (nearly a decade ago, yikes!) I'd written my first novel, which at the time was absolutely fictional. However, almost scene for scene has since become my reality. This is why when an ISTP friend explained, logically, his concerns for my safety and why I needed to step away, I believed him. How often does your favorite fictional character you created step into reality to save the day? As a result of having written about this before, it was much easier for me to recognize the problem, and although I still struggled with taking the blame, minimizing, and denying for a while, with the support of my ISTP, I eventually saw things clearly, escaped one day when I feared for my safety because I saw those "crazy" eyes and knew that point in the cycle we were at, and separated. For Thanksgiving, I asked for a divorce. He's very much unstable, and I fear that he's the "If I can't have her, nobody will" type -- that's not just a gut feeling but based on observations I've made regarding the abuse, his behavior, etc.

I'm resilient, and my friends keep telling me that they are very proud of me and that they know few women with the strength, grace, and compassion that I've had dealing with all of this. I surprise myself that I don't miss the relationship at this point and know with absolute confidence I want nothing to do with it. As an INFP, I see the best in everyone, avoid confrontations and conflict, and am fiercely loyal. One ex told me I was too forgiving when he'd mistreated me.

However, this is where I am hoping that someone might be able to chime in with some advice.

While I have been handling this all freakishly well, but last night, while unpacking my journals, I came across one of his. In the middle of one of the pages was a scribble mark and broken piece of graphite. Suddenly, I was there again. I needed to take my anxiety medication for the first time since leaving him (which was Nov. 10). Flashbacks of the abuse crushed into me, and I didn't know what to do with myself. Today, I'm still feeling anxious. When all of this was fresh, I swore I had some form of PTSD or NAS. One leaving, however, I truly began to feel alive again, empowered, and assertive when dealing with my soon-to-be ex. I'd almost forgotten how severe the panic attacks had been. My ISTP has taught me to approach reality by looking at logic and reason versus allowing my emotions to sweep me away. This has helped me tremendously in solidifying my resolve to follow through with the divorce, stand up for myself, and work through some of the issues I'd picked up to cope, such as starvation. Logic and reason helped with all of those things, easy peasy.

But these flashbacks of the abuse that were triggered are not easy peasy. I feel like I am sitting alone in a dark cave filled with icy water. I feel alone, shattered, and can hardly breathe because it is difficult to remind myself that I am safe, I am well, and he will not hurt me. I'm more angry toward myself than anything for allowing him to hurt me for as long as I did and then making excuses for him! I'm fierce, passionate, and determined, so the idea that I compromised my entire identity for someone else infuriates me. Which doesn't help with the healing. I've tried journaling about it; in fact, I'm writing a memoir about it to help reach others who are trapped in domestic violence. But that doesn't help right now. It only creates stronger triggers.

Any and all suggestions to help me stay above this would be so appreciated! Eventually, I'll work up the nerve to meet with the counselor at the local shelter, but I'm not at that place yet.

TLDR; coping mechanisms for dealing with traumatic flashbacks when the emotions are amplified 100x?
 

·
Premium Member
INTP
Joined
·
11,901 Posts
I can only suggest that you continue talking about it until you're ready to see a professional counsellor.
Anybody else can only really offer an ear, any other help is out of the league of the average person, imo.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
166 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
I can only suggest that you continue talking about it until you're ready to see a professional counsellor.
Anybody else can only really offer an ear, any other help is out of the league of the average person, imo.
I think you are absolutely correct. But maybe that's what I need to do. Talk about it more, I mean. I'm often afraid to talk about it too much because I feel like such a dirty or mean person admitting the things that were done to me. So I feel like I owe it to my spouse to keep quiet. Yet every time I do speak up, I feel so empowered. I hadn't really thought about that.

*sigh* New Year, new me? Hopefully within the month, I'll see the counselor. It's interesting that I had the courage and strength to leave despite fearing for my life, but social anxiety has me terrified from seeing a professional therapist who wants to HELP me! Go figure.

Thanks for your response.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,356 Posts
While I have been handling this all freakishly well,
Consider the possibility that you experienced some disassociation, or prolonged disconnect. When that happens, the trauma may come back because it was never processed. You will need to feel this stuff, and get over it. You can delay it, but it doesn't go away until it's been processed. Therapy would help with this, but I understand some have reasons not to go.

My dad died unexpectedly when I was 19 and in the middle of college. It devastated me and had to push through and Finnish, I had to force myself to go back and get that degree. His last words to me were that he was proud I was doing so well in college (neither of my parents went, and none of my siblings finished) I didn't disassociate, but I did put off a lot of grieving. It hit me hard after I graduated, I moved back in with my mom and just did nothing. I was out of it for a solid 2 months. It took years to move on fully. That was 25 years ago and it still hurts but I can say it no longer hurts me.

What you went through was worse, and you likely have a lot more to process. The point is you have to give yourself time, permission, and space to go through all this emotional stuff. Do it for your future, even if you can't do it for your present. Like you, I coped "freakishly well" at the time, but it came at a price, and that debit had to be paid.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
166 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Consider the possibility that you experienced some disassociation, or prolonged disconnect. When that happens, the trauma may come back because it was never processed. You will need to feel this stuff, and get over it. You can delay it, but it doesn't go away until it's been processed...you have to give yourself time, permission, and space to go through all this emotional stuff. Do it for your future, even if you can't do it for your present.
Before I'd separated, as I was doing research, I remember reading about disassociation and had even considered that it was something I was dealing with at that time. I'm going to revisit this idea, now that I am out of the home and in a much more stable environment.

You really resonate with me and my mindset in stating that I do it for my future, even if I can't for my present. That really does help. Thank you.

I'm afraid I made things worse tonight. I was trying to be civil, so we've still been sharing the car that is on me and my father's name, as well as a bank account, etc. However, he was still being very much an a-hole toward me, and I couldn't hold my tongue. Maybe I've become a little *too* assertive at this point... This week I am opening a new bank account and taking the necessary steps to cut all connection with him. I don't know how he will respond. It was ugly tonight. I don't plan on being alone with him ever again. All of this to say I might get to that therapy sooner rather than later because I know that our local shelter that offers free counseling also offers legal advising. If I take the step for one, I'm going to do the other while I'm at it.

I know that speaking with a counselor would help, but I just feel so over-sensitive. It's the idea that what happened to me could have been worse. I know others who have gone through much more traumatic experiences than I have. I know I'm sensitive, so I feel like I'm just being a wimp meeting with a counselor. I don't want to be dramatic or the girl who cried wolf, if that makes sense? I feel a need to just find a way to cope on my own. But I think deep down I know that's a horrible idea....
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
14,154 Posts
First of all, I'm so glad to hear you've gotten out of your relationship with him. That is probably one of the hardest parts.

But I agree that seeing a counselor would be helpful. It doesn't mean your weak, but better to start working on that flashback thing right now and seeing a counselor could help with that.

I'm also glad you are getting a separate bank account, and that you've decided not to be alone with him again. I think that's a really good idea to stick with from now on.

But yeah...I don't know what to tell you about coping. It sounds like ISTP is helpful, but I also think it'd be good to get a counselor's outside perspective to help you through the tough time. There are some techniques some counselors will use too--EMDR, hypnosis (I've never been in hypnosis), and my counselor is pretty into Internal Family Systems Therapy https://www.psychologytoday.com/therapy-types/internal-family-systems-therapy

So there's a lot of different approaches--you could do some research and see if anything speaks to you in the meanwhile.

But with your ex--first thing first is safety, so those concrete actions you are taking are perfect steps--the not being alone with him, the getting your own bank account, and cutting ties. You are doing such a great job imo.
 

·
Premium Member
INTP
Joined
·
11,901 Posts
I think you are absolutely correct. But maybe that's what I need to do. Talk about it more, I mean. I'm often afraid to talk about it too much because I feel like such a dirty or mean person admitting the things that were done to me. So I feel like I owe it to my spouse to keep quiet. Yet every time I do speak up, I feel so empowered. I hadn't really thought about that.

*sigh* New Year, new me? Hopefully within the month, I'll see the counselor. It's interesting that I had the courage and strength to leave despite fearing for my life, but social anxiety has me terrified from seeing a professional therapist who wants to HELP me! Go figure.

Thanks for your response.
Perhaps posting about your experiences here (or anywhere else) anonymously might be easier than talking in person, for the time being? If you feel like you're being disloyal when you talk about it. I quit seeing a counsellor years ago because I felt so exposed by having my face & name associated with what I was talking about. I also felt very uncomfortable putting other people's names in there (even just first names). While I would recommend professional help first, I do understand that sometimes it's not the right solution for everyone.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Wellsy

·
Registered
Joined
·
166 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Perhaps posting about your experiences here (or anywhere else) anonymously might be easier than talking in person, for the time being?
I think this might actually help tremendously. I have a writing website, and I typically post creative nonfiction pieces. However, those readers know me personally, as well as my husband, so that doesn't seem like a safe place to talk through what's happened. This forum is probably the most anonymous, thus safe, place for me to speak freely. And I really just need that, I think. A safe space to just sort of dump the emotional trauma. Just to share. Not necessarily to receive feedback or advice or God forbid even pity. Just a place to sort through it all. I suppose when the flashbacks become overwhelming or I'm struggling with processing things, I can return to this thread and just sort of write it out. Put it out there.
 

·
queen of glitter gnomes
Joined
·
10,502 Posts
I agree that this thread is a good place to express your thoughts and feelings.
Also, I agree with Wicker Deer about counseling. It can only help. I have had EMDR and it is the best thing ever. I can't say enough about this technique of therapy.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
166 Posts
Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
I've never heard of EMDR, that I know of. However, I shall be looking that up later on today. Thanks!

And as much as I thought last night would make things worse for me, I just got off of the phone with the ex after transferring some bills from my name onto his. And...*gasp* he was apologetic and sweet and even mentioned that it was just that time of the month in his abusive cycle that had him angry and irritable last night... *eye roll*. Not sure how long this sweetness will last before he lashes out again.

My friend told me that leaving would be the hardest part, and that he wouldn't be able to hurt me anymore. This is why I am doing everything I can ASAP to cut all connection with him. As long as we still have to be in touch with each other, he will continue to abuse me. Perhaps not as extremely as he had, but it will still happen. I'm going on my second month of separation, and the pattern is still holding true.

The funniest part is that he explains that he mistreats me because he still wants me back, loves me, and doesn't want to lose me. People have funny ways of showing they care... Lol
 

·
queen of glitter gnomes
Joined
·
10,502 Posts
I've never heard of EMDR, that I know of. However, I shall be looking that up later on today. Thanks!

And as much as I thought last night would make things worse for me, I just got off of the phone with the ex after transferring some bills from my name onto his. And...*gasp* he was apologetic and sweet and even mentioned that it was just that time of the month in his abusive cycle that had him angry and irritable last night... *eye roll*. Not sure how long this sweetness will last before he lashes out again.

My friend told me that leaving would be the hardest part, and that he wouldn't be able to hurt me anymore. This is why I am doing everything I can ASAP to cut all connection with him. As long as we still have to be in touch with each other, he will continue to abuse me. Perhaps not as extremely as he had, but it will still happen. I'm going on my second month of separation, and the pattern is still holding true.

The funniest part is that he explains that he mistreats me because he still wants me back, loves me, and doesn't want to lose me. People have funny ways of showing they care... Lol
Unfortunately, abusers will say stuff like that. They claim that they abuse because they love their victims. I'm glad that you do not believe him and that you're cutting ties with him.

Hugs. You are in my prayers.
 

·
Lotus Jester
Joined
·
8,877 Posts
I think you are absolutely correct. But maybe that's what I need to do. Talk about it more, I mean. I'm often afraid to talk about it too much because I feel like such a dirty or mean person admitting the things that were done to me. So I feel like I owe it to my spouse to keep quiet. Yet every time I do speak up, I feel so empowered. I hadn't really thought about that.

*sigh* New Year, new me? Hopefully within the month, I'll see the counselor. It's interesting that I had the courage and strength to leave despite fearing for my life, but social anxiety has me terrified from seeing a professional therapist who wants to HELP me! Go figure.

Thanks for your response.
You have absolutely nothing to feel ashamed of. You were the victim/survivor; you did NOTHING wrong; he did; remember that. It's all on HIM, not on you. I hope you get all the counselling/support groups etc. to help you to overcome the horrors you were subjected to. Good luck. :hugs:
 
  • Like
Reactions: dearest me

·
queen of glitter gnomes
Joined
·
10,502 Posts
Thank you for this. I greatly appreciate it. <3
You're welcome.
About two years ago, I wrote a very in-depth article about domestic violence for my local newspaper. It is a shockingly common occurrence in my "nice" suburban community. In the course of researching the article, I learned quite a bit about how domestic abusers behave and about how difficult it is for victims to get away, mainly because of the emotional abuse.

My heart goes out to you, and you can count on me as someone who supports you 100 percent.
 
  • Like
Reactions: dearest me

·
Registered
Joined
·
166 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
@Glenda Gnome Starr

<3 <3 <3 Thank you so, so much for this. I can't even.

The truth is, had I not witnessed loved ones in the past go through this, and had I not written a novel in high school with this very same storyline (with the research to go with it), and had I not had that one particular friend who recognized the subtle references in my conversation to what was happening even when I was caught in the mindset that everything was okay, it wasn't that bad, etc. I would probably still be stuck. Thank God for preparing me all along to have the support system and wisdom to get out when I did. If there's ever a good time for divorce, it's now. And I firmly believe I would have died prematurely had I stuck around. I cannot thank God enough because I know what a dark place it is and how difficult the entire situation is. This is why I am writing a memoir with the hope that it might reach even just one person imprisoned in this cycle. It will all have been worth it.

Tonight, he called to ask for my car, and as I'm sick and can't use it, I allowed him to borrow it. It's so freezing here, and he was riding his bike around town! He waited outside for me to bring him the keys. He didn't try to come inside. He brought me coffee. He apologized for how he had been acting and thanked me for my kindness in allowing him to borrow my car. He called me afterward to inform me that we'd need to change the oil in the car soon.

I'm aware at this point that this is the honeymoon phase of the cycle. I know now not to fall for this. While I do think he sincerely means it in these moments, I know the sweetness is fleeting. It interests me that the cycle is still continuing although I left and our only interactions presently are every few days or so when we exchange the car. I shudder to think at what the cycle would look like if we were still alone under the same roof!
 

·
queen of glitter gnomes
Joined
·
10,502 Posts
@Glenda Gnome Starr

<3 <3 <3 Thank you so, so much for this. I can't even.

The truth is, had I not witnessed loved ones in the past go through this, and had I not written a novel in high school with this very same storyline (with the research to go with it), and had I not had that one particular friend who recognized the subtle references in my conversation to what was happening even when I was caught in the mindset that everything was okay, it wasn't that bad, etc. I would probably still be stuck. Thank God for preparing me all along to have the support system and wisdom to get out when I did. If there's ever a good time for divorce, it's now. And I firmly believe I would have died prematurely had I stuck around. I cannot thank God enough because I know what a dark place it is and how difficult the entire situation is. This is why I am writing a memoir with the hope that it might reach even just one person imprisoned in this cycle. It will all have been worth it.

Tonight, he called to ask for my car, and as I'm sick and can't use it, I allowed him to borrow it. It's so freezing here, and he was riding his bike around town! He waited outside for me to bring him the keys. He didn't try to come inside. He brought me coffee. He apologized for how he had been acting and thanked me for my kindness in allowing him to borrow my car. He called me afterward to inform me that we'd need to change the oil in the car soon.

I'm aware at this point that this is the honeymoon phase of the cycle. I know now not to fall for this. While I do think he sincerely means it in these moments, I know the sweetness is fleeting. It interests me that the cycle is still continuing although I left and our only interactions presently are every few days or so when we exchange the car. I shudder to think at what the cycle would look like if we were still alone under the same roof!
You are a great writer and I believe that your memoir will help so many people. I admire your strength and your courage. If you ever want to chat privately, please feel free to PM me any time you want.

I am sending you warm hugs.
 
  • Like
Reactions: dearest me

·
Registered
Joined
·
166 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
You are a great writer and I believe that your memoir will help so many people. I admire your strength and your courage.
I certainly appreciate your admiration, but I feel it isn't warranted. However, if you admire my strength and courage, who am I to tell you that you are wrong? As I've mentioned, if I can use my experience to help even just ONE person escape from the cycle of abuse and learn that love does NOT look like that, it was all worth it.

It's interesting that you point out that I'm a great writer and that you believe my memoir will help many others. I'm not sure what of my writing aside from forums posts you've read, but even as a young girl, before any of this happened, I always felt a stillness in my heart that my writing would be used to impact lives in a positive way. Even before I learned to own up to the skills and talents the good Lord blessed me with. Over the years, individuals from different backgrounds and different relationships with me have felt a strong conviction to tell me, almost word for word, the same message: God will use you in mighty ways. He will use you to save many others.

Every time someone has mentioned this, I instantly think about my writing. Even more interestingly enough is the fact that for such a long time, one of my favorite verses in scripture comes from Genesis 50:20, and do you know what the Holman Christian Standard Bible translates that verse as? Notice the wording, specifically: "You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people."

The translation I first learned read "for the saving of many souls." I particularly like the wording in THIS translation because what do you call the people who are safely removed from domestic abuse? SURVIVORS! How fitting?! It is my hope that this book will not only meet the physical needs of those caught in the cycle but also offer hope, comfort, and bring about emotional and spiritual restoration, as well!
 

·
Lotus Jester
Joined
·
8,877 Posts
Before I'd separated, as I was doing research, I remember reading about disassociation and had even considered that it was something I was dealing with at that time. I'm going to revisit this idea, now that I am out of the home and in a much more stable environment.

You really resonate with me and my mindset in stating that I do it for my future, even if I can't for my present. That really does help. Thank you.

I'm afraid I made things worse tonight. I was trying to be civil, so we've still been sharing the car that is on me and my father's name, as well as a bank account, etc. However, he was still being very much an a-hole toward me, and I couldn't hold my tongue. Maybe I've become a little *too* assertive at this point... This week I am opening a new bank account and taking the necessary steps to cut all connection with him. I don't know how he will respond. It was ugly tonight. I don't plan on being alone with him ever again. All of this to say I might get to that therapy sooner rather than later because I know that our local shelter that offers free counseling also offers legal advising. If I take the step for one, I'm going to do the other while I'm at it.

I know that speaking with a counselor would help, but I just feel so over-sensitive. It's the idea that what happened to me could have been worse. I know others who have gone through much more traumatic experiences than I have. I know I'm sensitive, so I feel like I'm just being a wimp meeting with a counselor. I don't want to be dramatic or the girl who cried wolf, if that makes sense? I feel a need to just find a way to cope on my own. But I think deep down I know that's a horrible idea....
Don't compare yourself to others. Your experience is not some suffering contest and getting the help you deserve; does not make you a wimp by any stretch of the imagination. :hug:
 
  • Like
Reactions: dearest me

·
queen of glitter gnomes
Joined
·
10,502 Posts
I certainly appreciate your admiration, but I feel it isn't warranted. However, if you admire my strength and courage, who am I to tell you that you are wrong? As I've mentioned, if I can use my experience to help even just ONE person escape from the cycle of abuse and learn that love does NOT look like that, it was all worth it.

It's interesting that you point out that I'm a great writer and that you believe my memoir will help many others. I'm not sure what of my writing aside from forums posts you've read, but even as a young girl, before any of this happened, I always felt a stillness in my heart that my writing would be used to impact lives in a positive way. Even before I learned to own up to the skills and talents the good Lord blessed me with. Over the years, individuals from different backgrounds and different relationships with me have felt a strong conviction to tell me, almost word for word, the same message: God will use you in mighty ways. He will use you to save many others.

Every time someone has mentioned this, I instantly think about my writing. Even more interestingly enough is the fact that for such a long time, one of my favorite verses in scripture comes from Genesis 50:20, and do you know what the Holman Christian Standard Bible translates that verse as? Notice the wording, specifically: "You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people."

The translation I first learned read "for the saving of many souls." I particularly like the wording in THIS translation because what do you call the people who are safely removed from domestic abuse? SURVIVORS! How fitting?! It is my hope that this book will not only meet the physical needs of those caught in the cycle but also offer hope, comfort, and bring about emotional and spiritual restoration, as well!
I have not read any of your writings outside of the forum. This post, in particular, is fantastic. You talk about the things that have been in your heart since you were a young girl. You describe your faith in a humble and heartfelt way. This is exactly why I, as a journalist, have assessed your writing as "great."

I can't explain why I admire your strength and your courage. My admiration comes from a place deep inside of me, a place that has no words, only feelings. My intuition exists, but it is very much nonverbal. It gives me a sense of people but doesn't give me words to explain why I sense people in the way that I do.

As a journalist, I have interviewed and have written about survivors of various types (mostly cancer survivors). I've written several articles about domestic violence. I spoke to a woman who is the executive director of a local advocacy organization for domestic violence victims. After they flee their abuser, they can go to this place, which is called the Family Justice Center. They get all of the support that they need. They don't have to go to court to get an order of protection because the Family Justice Center has video conferencing with the court. The reason for them being kept out of the court room is so that they don't have to see their abusers immediately after they left them. The Family Justice Center holds a breakfast every year, which is a fundraiser for the organization. They have survivors who speak about their experiences. At the last breakfast that I attended, the survivor was an engineer, who reminded us that domestic violence happens in every community, rich or poor, and that the victims can be well educated and with good careers.

The executive director of the organization is a former television news person and a former town supervisor. She was motivated to become involved in advocacy for victims of domestic violence because her best friend at the news channel where she worked was murdered by her abusive husband. She never spoke up. She was afraid. The executive director wanted her friend to never be forgotten.

I hope that today is a good day for you.

Hugs from a (cold) gnome.
 
  • Like
Reactions: dearest me

·
Registered
Joined
·
166 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
When he called to ask about the car, he could hear in my voice that I was sick. He showed so much sympathy and offered to do anything I needed while he had the car today. (I know not to swoon over this. I know these moments of sweetness won't last. Even though I do think he genuinely cares, I recognize that he lacks whatever is necessary to make lasting change. He's proven this.) However, I'm not sure how I feel about myself for this, if I'm okay with it or feel manipulative, but I'm learning to milk the honeymoon phases for what I can when they're here. So, since I am sick today, and he does have my car (I was NOT going to let him ride to work on his bike in this freezing weather! Goodness no!) he's going to bring my favorite coffee and a bite to eat for me when he gets off of work. I feel like this is okay because he understands that no matter how sweet he is, I'm not going back. I understand that no matter how sweet he is, I'm not going back. He knows that I have forbidden him to be alone with me in any building. He seemed in good spirits earlier. We'll see what if that persists in several hours.
 
1 - 20 of 51 Posts
Top